A Home Coming
by Vera

The apartment spoke for itself. It had once been just a musty stately townhouse with lots of old musty chairs and couches with some heavy mahogany tables and bookshelves for ambiance. At one time the refrigerator had contained a single carton of milk and some rather wilted lettuce.

Now....well it was still a rather musty townhouse, but at least now the ambiance wasn't quite so old-man-waiting-to-dieish. It had a bit of panache. The walls held not only frames of diplomas from several prestigious univer sities, but framed posters of rock groups long disbanded and a rather large print of Salvador Dali's Narcissus. The furniture remained with some additions: a rather beaten bean bag chair, two chest high sculptures of African fertility gods and the large four poster bed had gained a rather colorful afghan.

The refrigerator was packed. Mostly with things that consisted of at least 240 calories a serving. The freezer was already operating in ways that defied physics. And if one inhaled very deeply while standing right in the center of the kitchen, they might catch a whiff of mary jane secreted in the cupboards.

The whole mix look suited Oz down to his currently bare feet. He was spread out over the musty couch that looked almost as if it had been covered in tweed. He was reading a magazine.

Oz was one of those rare individuals who actually read magazines. He would carefully go through every article weighting the ideas presented and even occasionally stooping to contemplate the thesis. The magazine he was cu rrently consuming in this matter purported to be about guitars, but there were an awful lot of advertisements in the way.

It was the familiar sound of a key in the lock in the door that made him stop reading. His heartbeat quickened and he flowed to his feet. Standing, he watched carefully as the door swung open with a gentle bustling noise and Giles entered. The older man sighed as he locked the door behind him and pivoted slowly on one foot to make eye contact with Oz.

"It's all right." He said slowly. "Everything is all right."

And in that sudden way of his, Oz filled Giles' arms, seeking his lips. The petite red head had to stand on his toes to reach properly, but he was agile enough that it never seemed to matter. Giles dropped his bags to get a better grip on the warm warm body beneath his and for a long time they just stood in their addled apartment, reacquainting themselves.

With a sudden burst of energy, despite his recent injury, Giles scooped Oz off the floor entirely and managed to carry him all the way to the bedroom, tossing the bony boy onto the bed where he bounced softly against the thick matress. Deliberately, Giles undressed, tossing his travel-wrinkled clothes into the wicker hamper. He registered it's full state and raised an eyebrow.


Oz gave him a sheepish grin and declined to reply. Instead, he removed his boxers, the only article of clothing he'd had on when Giles had first entered. Without hesitation, Giles returned to his side.

Their love making always alternated between excruciatingly gentle and brutally rough. In deference to Giles' injuries they took it slow, meeting each other in long lazy thrusts, pausing only briefly to roll Oz on top. They came, not together, but close enough that it wasn't a concern.

In the sleepy stickiness of the aftermath, Oz curled into Giles side.

"Missed you." He said simply, but it encompassed far more then that. Giles had gone on an extremely dangerous mission. For three days, Oz hadn't been sure what condition he was in, though he knew for certain he was alive thanks to a spell Giles had had the forethought to cast on the both of them. The worry had made him uncharacteristically restless, pacing around the apartment driven to leave, but afraid to lest the important call came through while he was out and fell to the faulty answering machine which may or may not choose to repeat it.

"I saw all the others. I think..... I think I may have to return to Sunnydale."

"I know."

"It's for the best really. Maybe I should never have left in the first place. Maybe the whole mess is somehow.."

"Rupert. Don't."

"I can't help, but worry about them. All the time. And now it seems that I had reason for it. You should have seen them all...bloody 'ell. It was terrible. I know I told you everything before, over the phone, but Gods....I never expected..."

"I'll go back with you." Oz said softly, his voice overriding the heavy nervousness.

"Are you quite sure? I mean with all this and I know that we're...but to go back to everything you left behind.."

"I love you."

And that's really all there is to it. There are a thousand other things to be said, a hundred thousand details to iron out and a million emotions that will flicker through both of them, but none of that really matters.

" I love you too."

Giles pulls the smaller man to him, presses kisses into the currently blue hair and cups one firm buttocks in his hand. They will drift off to sleep in a while, for now though, they own this moment, just as Giles feels he has owned every moment with Oz. He remembers vividly, the young man arriving at his door with a single duffel bag. He invited him in then, let him sleep on the couch for a week while they looked for better accommodations. There was a space of day when they became lovers and Giles is still not quite sure how it came about though he was definite on one or two points about Cherrios and a few unique stains on the previously regal couch.

"You think too loud." Oz scolds him in the middle of yawn.

"I'll try to keep it down."

The image of Willow returning to the shop that afternoon, her eyes puffy with tears, her body bent with a thousand years of premature aging. She had been leaning heavily on Xander who looked sturdier somehow. Solid. Like he had been a thin seedling for a long time and that the sudden shock to his system had forced him to grow to maturity. They were both tired.

It was a harrowing sight. When he had left two days after, with the promise of returning again within a matter of days, Willow was still crying. She hadn't slept or ate, she merely sat and sobbed. She should have run out of fluid, but the magics still had it's digs on her, so her supply of tears had no bounds and her clothes were soaked from her pain wracked cries.

"Once upon a time there was a middle age librarian." Oz murmured. Giles smiled, recognizing a familiar Oz ritual. "Who sat around and thought all the time about lots of different and important things. Until he met a quiet boy who taught him that sometimes it's better to just sit around. And even better to sit on each other. They lived happily ever after."

"I like that story."

"Me too."

Oz smelled vaguely of incense as if even his scent couldn't bother defining itself. With a bit of a struggle, Giles managed to push away the haunting sight of his ex-charges from his mind and turned his attention to trying to fall asleep while keeping as much skin contact between himself and his young lover.

The legendary London fog rolled in while they slept, casting deep shadows over their entwined bodies. In a strange trick of the light, they flickered for a long moment becoming whole, one larger person instead of two. The effect gradually subsided leaving two ordinary bodies, but the moment had had a power of its own as such things often do. Magic is born of it.